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View from the East
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Doll still plugged in to Pirate roots

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Kirk Doll did a number of jobs following his playing career as a defensive lineman at East Carolina before he figured out he wanted to coach.

“I thought I wanted to get into the golfing business,” said Doll, assistant head coach and linebackers coach for LSU, which won the Sugar Bowl and the BCS version of the 2003 national championship.

Doll drove a propane truck in the Greenville area and also ran a pizza place after playing for the Pirates in 1971-72. He returned home to Wichita, KA, where he worked at a doughnut shop and a taco restaurant.

“I wore a lot of different hats before I realized coaching was always what I wanted to do,” Doll said.

Doll started coaching as a student assistant at Wichita State while he worked on a degree in education there. He moved on to serve on a high school staff in Texas City, TX, which is south of Houston, near Galveston. The head coach of the high school program at Texas City, where Doll worked for two years, was Elwood Kettler, one of Bear Bryant’s famed “Junction Boys.”

“If you read that book or see the movie, he was the one who had the spinal injury,” Doll said. “But he stayed the whole camp.”

Doll became a part time assistant at Iowa State and later joined John Cooper’s staff at Tulsa. During Doll’s five years at Tulsa he knew former ECU coach Steve Logan.

“Steve and I are good friends,” Doll said. “I was working with the offensive line at Tulsa coaching tight ends and tackles. When Steve became offensive coordinator, I coached centers and guards.”

Doll went on to Arizona State and spent one year with Jackie Sherrill at Texas A&M. He was with R.C. Slocum and the Aggies for five more years.

He spent three years at Notre Dame with Lou Holtz and five more on the Fighting Irish staff with Bob Davie before going to Baton Rouge, which is still reveling in its Louisiana Superdome triumph over Oklahoma three weeks ago.

Doll said there was a parade on Sunday and about 30,000 fans came out to Tiger Stadium for festivities despite rain.

“It’s been an experience that’s difficult to explain,” he said. “I had the same feeling when we won the Southern Conference my senior year at East Carolina. It took a lot of people with dedication and effort doing the best they could do. It was really a rewarding experience.”

Doll shared the experience with former Pirate teammates Jimmy Creech of Greenville and Billy Tart of Dunn. Doll said he has vacationed on the North Carolina coast three of the last four years.

“Last summer some of them were asking if I would get them tickets when we went to the Sugar Bowl,” Doll said. “I said ‘Yeah, yeah, sure.’ I thought we had a good team and obviously we did, but I’m not sure if I thought we were that good.”

But Doll was good to his word when LSU got to the BCS title game. Former teammate Jim Post had obligations that prevented him from making the trip to New Orleans but Creech and Tart had a big time. Doll got them into the Nokia pregame party and took them to the postgame meal with the LSU team.

Obviously the LSU linebackers were well coached. The Bayou Bengals ranked No. 1 nationally in scoring defense.

Doll has been to all the major bowls in his coaching career — the Orange, the Fiesta twice, the Rose and now the Sugar. He’s been to three Cotton Bowls, a Gator Bowl, a Freedom Bowl, an Independence Bowl and a Holiday Bowl. He has enjoyed taking his family with him on many of the postseason excursions.

“I’ve been fortunate to be around some great people and I’ve had some great experiences,” Doll said.

It’s safe to say that his chosen career has been more fulfilling than some of his early jobs. ECU remains close to his heart.

“Obviously I wish the best for East Carolina and all my buddies,” Doll said. “They’re special.”

NAS-Kerr shifts gears

Former ECU star linebacker Jeff Kerr, who finished his career for the Pirates on a 9-3 team in 1999, is leaving his post as a strength and conditioning assistant for Jeff Connors at North Carolina to become a jack man on the pit crew of a Busch series racing team owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The car will be driven by Martin Truex Jr. The season starts in about three weeks at Daytona Beach. Kerr said he will also be working for the John Andretti-driven Pennzoil car in the Daytona 500. Kerr has worked previously as a pit crew member.

Kerr had discussed the recently created strength and conditioning position at ECU with Pirates football coach John Thompson, but Thompson was not sure of the specifics of the position, including salary, at the time. Kerr was under some pressure from the race team to give them an answer.

“I was first in line if I wanted it,” Kerr said of the opportunity on the NASCAR circuit. “But they needed to know. We have to start practicing. The first race is February 14th.”

Kerr and wife Misty, whose career is nursing, will continue living in Chapel Hill until they can sell their townhouse.

“Then we’ll move to Mooresville or Lake Norman,” he said.

Another benefit of the career move for Kerr is that he will be able to work on an MBA degree at Charlotte.

“They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Kerr said. “You have to keep your eyes open and be on your toes, but I love the pressure to perform. I’m used to it. I’ve been doing it all my life and I like that better.

"When you’re coaching you’re relying on 18 to 20 year olds. Here I can actively do it. It’s a little bit of a relief really.”

C-USA tougher than ice for Herrion

East Carolina basketball coach Bill Herrion wasn’t really bothered by the winter driving conditions that confronted the region on Sunday.

“Being from the north, we’re used to it,” he said.

But road conditions for his team continue to be troublesome. ECU fell to 0-19 in Conference USA road games over three seasons with a 70-47 loss at Saint Louis on Saturday. The Pirates trailed by just one point at the half.

“We were down one and I thought we were in pretty good shape,” he said. “Saint Louis is a very good defensive team. They turned up the heat the first five minutes of the second half and we didn’t respond. That’s an issue right now. We’ve got a lot of young guys in the backcourt.

“I don’t have a definite answer. We’re trying to work our way through it.”

ECU plays at national power Cincinnati at 8:05 p.m. on Wednesday.

“We haven’t really been playing that bad,” Herrion said. “Our early schedule in the league has been very tough. Five of our last seven games have been on the road. You look at who we’ve played and it’s really the upper half of the league. ... In two games — UAB and Houston — we put ourselves in position to win, and in this league when you don’t win games that you have a chance to win, it’s severe. It hurts.”

THIS WEEK'S CONTENT FROM BONESVILLE.NET:
Greg Vacek: Daily Web Headlines Roundup - 01.27
Denny O'Brien: Pirate Notebook No. 172 - 01.27
C-USA, ECU adrift in stormy seas
Al Myatt: View from the East - 01.27
Doll still plugged in to Pirate roots
Nuggets: Notes from ECU and beyond - 01.27

Bonesville: Updated AP Basketball Poll - 01.27
Cable 7 Audio: Brian Bailey Show - 01.27
Guests Jimmy Grimsley & Eddie Fulford

Sammy Batten: Football Recruiting Report - 01.26
Pirates figure winners breed winning
Thad Mumau: Hoops Recruiting Report - 01.26
ECU in the mix for Simon Gratz star
Nuggets: Notes from ECU and beyond - 01.26
Bonesville: Updated C-USA Standings & Scoreboard - 01.26
Ron Cherubini - Pirate Time Machine No. 26 - 01.25

Danny Kepley: One of the wildest of the Wild Dogs
Bonesville: Pirates buckle after solid start - 01.25
Nuggets: Notes from ECU and beyond - 01.25
Keith LeClair: From The Dugout - 01.24

It’s cap time for MLB
Bonesville: Updated Recruiting Thumbnails - 01.24

Nuggets: Notes from ECU and beyond - 01.24

The Pirates have also been forced to adjust to the loss of starting power forward Gabriel Mikulas because of a broken right arm sustained Jan. 14.

“Down the stretch of the Houston game (a 55-53 loss on Jan. 17), we really missed his scoring presence inside,” Herrion said. “Right now we don’t have anybody to go to inside. We’re trying to spread out on the perimeter.”

C-USA is obviously a very good basketball league but the Pirates should have some more opportunities to get into the league win column, especially at home, starting with DePaul at 7 p.m. on Saturday. ECU should have a realistic shot at getting a C-USA road win at decimated South Florida the following Tuesday.

Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.

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02/23/2007 12:44:53 AM
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